Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sulphur, Oklahoma, USA

Halloween and May Day have parallel histories. They are six months apart. The former marks the transition from summer to winter. The second from winter to summer. Conceptions of spring and fall came later. [2007]

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

What's the function of a street sign? (1) To help in wayfinding. (2) To demarcate neighborhoods. (3) To enshrine diversity. (4) To make 'linguistic others' feel at home. (5) To reflect culture. (6) To enhance community aesthetics. Are those functions fulfilled by this sign in Honolulu's Chinatown? [2011]

Monday, October 29, 2012

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

On the island of Oahu, there are 18 outrigger canoe clubs, and all are anxious to educate anyone who wants to keep the ancient sport alive. If these novices get really good, they may enter the Molokai Hoe, the race from Molokai to Oahu. Strike that. The Molokai Hoe is open only to men. [2011]

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

The chapel is European, the sausage tree is African, and the tombs on this site are Hawaiian. On these grounds are buried the two dynasties of Hawaiian royals: the Kamehameha rulers and the Kalakaua rulers. Before Hawaii became a U.S. territory, it was a kingdom of its own. [2011]

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Seongnam, South Korea

Expect fog in Unjung-dong. That's because Unjung-dong means town (dong) in the middle (jong) of the clouds (un).  But shining through those clouds is the morning sunflower.  The clouds and the sun have both come down to earth.  [2012]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tecumseh, Michigan, USA

Short sleeves, long sleeves, jackets and vests.  A dog on the pavement:  as a friend, he's the best.  A place they have found to escape from the grind. On Main Street they gather; they're six of a kind. [2008]

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan

The cellular Sirens sing their song and he responds.  Into their world, he is drawn.  It seems so clear, so much different from the complexity of life on planet Earth.  He is already shipwrecked on Sirenum scopuli and will spend the rest of his life there.  [2012]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Where are the city's activity zones?  In Toronto, one is at the corner of Younge and Dundas Streets, where a game of basketball plays out while the world watches.  Globalization may be the father of homogenization, but it is also the mother of multiculturalism.  [2010]

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Auckland, New Zealand

Welcome to Ponsonby:  where you can feel at home on the lip of a volcano (long extinct!).   As globalism homogenizes landscapes around the world, localism rears its lovely head and invites us to be different.  Ponsonby Road, in fact, is so different it has a time zone of its own.  And that's Good.  [2011]

Monday, October 22, 2012

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Yarra River reflects the energy of the Melbourne's new Southbank, a former industrial area that has caught up with, if not pioneered, the transition of Australia's economy from industrial to post-industrial. The Spencer Street Bridge connects the old CBD with the new high amenity core. [2011]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Does it look a bit out of date but familiar?  That's because you are in Australia, where the Burger King franchise is known as Hungry Jack's.  The first one opened in 1971; today there are over 300 all across the continent.  Compare Hungary Jack's logo to the redesigned Burger King logo.  Which one do you like better?  [2006]

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Aleppo, Syria

Enter here.  It's a gateway to centuries past, a tabeau vivant of everyday life, a temple to free enterprise, a megaphone for the street, and a shopping mall grander than any galleria.  What lies beyond are the covered suqs of Aleppo.  Now let me re-write that in past tense.  The suqs were set ablaze when the Syrian uprising came to Aleppo.  [1995]

Friday, October 19, 2012

North Charleston, South Carolina, USA

North is north and south is south, and never the twain shall meet: except in North Charleston, South Carolina. How is something like this possible? As for the message, it's a product of what geographers would call stimulus diffusion. [2012]

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

He keeps the posies alive until the pre-winter sprites come to collect their comliness.   Could that be a sprite waiting in the wings for a chance to pounce?  [2010]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Encamp, Andorra

Traditional Pyreneean architecture is all about field stone and Romanesque arches. Andorra has kept the tradition alive by using thousand-year-old ideas to build twenty-first century landscapes. It's a reminder of the era when Charlemagne granted independence to les Valls d'Andorra. [2005]

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

Corn is everywhere in Mexico.  In fact, it is the most common grain grown in the Americas, and at some point over the past thirty years it overtook rice as the world's number one grain.  It feeds humans, animals, and internal combusion engines.    [2007]

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mexico City, DF, Mexico

On the east side of Mexico City's Zócalo, or central plaza, is the National Palace, seat of governmental power.   The palace facade extends one long and lifeless block.  It's repetitiously boring, monochromatically colorless, and has the impact of one long, run-on sentence without punctuation.  Agree?  [2008]

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


By the late nineteenth century, Guadalajara had grown too big for just one magnificent church (the cathedral), so the Temple of Atonement was built in neo-Gothic style.  Colombidae took up residence immediately.  But, when found anywhere near a church, they should be called doves not pigeons.  [2007]

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA

"I believe I can fly!" But, if not, I'll just hitch my spirit to a kite and touch the sky. Public art gives everyone a lift and renews everyone's subscription to childhood memories. [2012]

Friday, October 12, 2012

Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas, USA

In Texarkana, the city too big for one state, stands the only federal court house and post office that straddles a state line. It's promoted by the locals as the "second most photographed court house" in the country. What's the first? [2012]

Thursday, October 11, 2012

San Marcos, Texas, USA

 "In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, San Marcos firemen were summoned to a blaze by the clanging sound of a huge triangle which hung from a tree limb at the right of this entrance to the Hays County Courthouse." So sayeth the San Marcos Historical Preservation Commission. [2012]

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ankara, Turkey

Here in Ankara is a window box with four layers of culture: (1) white lace on the inside and (2) garlands of red peppers on the outside. In between: (3) window panes framed in peeling white paint, and (4) a soldered-metal mesh that looks as strong as the peppers. What story do they tell about the old citadel? [1998]

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Washington, DC, USA

It's Washington and it's spring, but the lunchtime crowds on Franklin Square are probably not bureaucrats, and they are definitely not tourists. What's left? Here's a clue: K Street borders Franklin Square. Now, where do you think these folks work? Next question: Where did they buy their lunches? [2012]

Monday, October 8, 2012

San Francisco, California, USA

Exactly fifty years ago, Tony Bennet branded the city with these words: "I left my heart in San Francisco / high on a hill, it calls to me / to be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars /the morning fog may chill the air, I don't care / my love waits there in San Francisco / above the blue and windy sea." The song's symbolism is now used to sell the city. [2010]

Sunday, October 7, 2012

New York, New York, USA

When does a single street become an art museum? When Peter Woytuk's sculptures are strung out for five miles along Broadway. If you were the tour guide, what would you say about this installation? Some possible associations: the apple is a symbol of nature's bounty, the raven a symbol of death, and the clamp a symbol of industrial civilization. [2012]

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hahndorf, South Australia, Australia

Hahndorf is in the orbit of Adelaide in South Australia, and it fits the pattern of 'satellite cities' everywhere.  In terms of the built environment, a satellite city is likely to mimic the nearest cardinal place.  Hahndorf's white lace comes right out of Adelaide's architectural play book.  [2011]

Friday, October 5, 2012

Changhua, Taiwan

Thanks to the driver who delivers the bottled gas, the cooks of Changhua can light the pilots of their stoves and please the palates of their customers.  [2012]

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

Welcome to Jerusalem's 'quiet quarter,' the area where the Armenians hold sway.  An Armenian specialty for centuries has been pottery making.  Some goes on sale to the public, and some is used to mark streets and businesses around the city.  [1996]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Take a look. Feel like yawning? It's contagious, you know. When you see someone else yawn, you are likely to yawn, too. Peter Monaghan's book Curious Behavior suggests that that yawning may have been the way a tribal group synchronized their sleeping habits. [2008]

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Osborne Village is Winnipeg's restaurant central, shopping mecca, and bohemian quarter.  And what could be more bohemian than a quarter-dozen dogs (one muzzled), two backpacks, and one guardian cat?  [2012]

Monday, October 1, 2012

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The CN Tower is one of Toronto's signature landmarks.  Its functions?  First, a telecommunications beacon.  Second, a tourist attraction with victuals and view.  Third, a status symbol: the world's tallest freestanding structure between 1976 and 2010.  All hail Toronto!  [2010]